I’m in the mood to create a Minnesota version of Pennies From Heaven. Every time it snows, it snows pennies from heaven. This song has always been able to put me into a shimmering state of mind. You’ll find your fortune falling all over town/ Be sure that your umbrella is upside down! Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers. If you want the things you love, you must have showers! While simple enough, it strikes a deep truth—you cannot have joy without sorrow—we only know one by the other.
It is the same with light and darkness. I made the light version of this bread, Pane Toscano, and now here is the dark—scuro in Italian meaning swarthy or dark. On the Second Sunday of Advent I contemplated the literary phenomenon of foil, which describes how entities can be better known by the presence of their opposite. How curious that it is only through Christ’s humanity that we have come to more fully know the divine. And how strange that He was able to fully embody both.
Pane Toscano Scuro
Adapted from The Italian Baker
1 1/3 cup flour
½ cup starter
1 cup water
Final Dough Ingredients:
1 cup white flour
3 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
1 cup water
1 cup starter
All of the sponge
In a bowl, combine the sponge ingredients. Cover and let rest for about 8 hours or overnight.
Combine all of the final dough ingredients. Mix until the ingredients are incorporated. Adjust the water as needed to achieve a medium dough consistency.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and ferment for 1 to 1.5 hours, until the dough approximately doubles in size.
Turn the dough into a lightly floured counter. Flatten and shape into a boule, seam-side down on a floured or parchment covered board.
Proof, covered, for about an hour, until the indentation left by a fingertip springs back very slowly.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 450F. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
Once the loaf is in the oven, reduce the temperature to 400F. Bake for 8 minutes with steam, and another 22 minutes or so without steam. Then turn off the oven and leave loaf in for another 10 minutes, with the door ajar.
Cool on a wire rack.
Pennies From Heaven is a tune that has been taking laps through my brain because I get to perform it this weekend at the Department of Surgery holiday party! Last Saturday, I sang with Take Two at the Assisi Heights’ Umbrian Christmas fundraiser for the nuns who live there—and yes, Marilyn, in the pic taken by my bread guru (no less!) I am wearing Grandma Alice’s 40s black lace collar! While I thought the high point would be getting the chance to sing, it was actually meeting Zola, a 90-year-old nun who recited a poem she memorized, Prinderella and Cince, which my gairy fodmother Sarah Roskum used to say for me, and which now I have a goal of memorizing before I’m ninety.